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The Papers of Maurice Hankey

Reference Code: GBR/0014/HNKY


  • Creation: 1865 - 1973

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for consultation by researchers using Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge. Individual closures of files are indicated in the catalogue.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers wishing to publish excerpts from the papers must obtain prior permission from the copyright holders and should seek advice from Archives Centre staff.

Biographical / Historical

Maurice Hankey was born on 1 April 1877 at Biarritz. He was the 3rd son of R. A. Hankey and his wife Helen Bakewell. He was educated at a private day school in Brighton and then Rugby School (1890-95). In 1903 Hankey married Adeline Hermine Gertrude Ernestine de Smidt, having three sons and one daughter. Hankey began his naval career in 1895 as probationary Second Lieutenant, Royal Marine Artillery and attended the Royal Naval College, Greenwich. In 1897, he moved from Greenwich to Eastney Barracks, Portsmouth. Upon completing his examinations, from late 1898, Hankey was appointed to the H.M.S. Ramillies, the flagship of Mediterranean station. In 1902, Hankey received his first Whitehall appointment, joining the staff of the naval intelligence department. Aside from a brief stint at sea in 1907, as an Intelligence Officer based in the Mediterranean, Hankey spent the remainder of his career based at Whitehall. During his Whitehall years, Hankey had a number of roles. In 1908, he became the Naval Assistant Secretary to the Committee of Imperial Defence (CID), subsequently becoming Secretary in 1912 (a role which he retained until retirement in 1938). In 1914, with the outbreak of war, Hankey's career rapidly blossomed as he became Secretary of the War Council and then, in 1916, Secretary of the War Cabinet. In the aftermath of WWI, in 1919, Hankey became the first Cabinet Secretary, which he remained in until his retirement. Hankey died at Redhill County Hospital, Surrey, on 26 January 1963. Hankey held various positions and received numerous awards: 1895 Probationary Second Lieutenant, Royal Marine Artillery. Royal Naval College, Greenwich 1897 Eastney Barracks, Portsmouth 1899 H.M.S. Ramillies, Mediterranean Aug 1899 Captain, R.M.A. Apr 1902 Naval Intelligence Department Dec 1906 Admiralty representative on Owen Committee 1907 Intelligence Officer, Mediterranean. Jan 1908 Naval Assistant Secretary, Committee of Imperial Defence June 1912 C.B. 1 Jan 1912 Secretary, C.I.D. (to 1938) Oct 1914 Lieutenant Colonel, R.M.A. (retired) Nov 1914 Secretary of War Council Dec 1916 Secretary of War Cabinet 1917 Commander, Legion of Honour 1917 Secretary of Imperial War Cabinet 1919 British Secretary, Paris Peace Conference 1919 Secretary of Cabinet (to 1938) 1919 G.C.B. 1920 Grand Cross of Crown of Italy 1921 British Secretary, Washington Conference 1921 Secretary-General, Imperial Conference 1921 Grand Cross of Crown of Belgium 1922 British Secretary, Genoa Economic Conference 1923 Clerk of the Privy Council (to 1938) 1923 Secretary-General, Imperial Conference 1924 British Secretary, London International Conference 1926 Secretary-General, Imperial Conference 1929 G.C.M.G. 1929-30 Secretary-General, Hague Conference 1929 Colonel R.M. (retired) 1930 Secretary-General., Hague Conference 1930 Secretary-General, London Naval Conference 1930 Secretary-General, Imperial Conference 1932 Secretary, Lausanne Conference 1934 G.C.V.0. 1937 Secretary-General, Imperial Conference 1938 Retired. British Government Director of Suez Canal Co. (to 1939) 1939 First Baron Hankey of The Chart 1939 Member of Permanent Mandates Commission, League of Nations (to Sept 1939) 3 Sept 1939 Minister without Portfolio, War Cabinet May 1940 Chancellor of Duchy of Lancaster 1940 Chairman, Scientific Advisory Committee (to 1942) July 1941 Paymaster-General Mar 1942 Dismissed from his office in Government June 1942 F.R.S. 1943 Chairman, Colonial Products Research Council 1944 Chairman, Television Committee 1945 Lees Knowles Lectures, Trinity College, Cambridge 1945 Director of Jorehaut Tea Co. (to 1960) 1945 Commercial Director of Suez Canal Co. 1947 Member of Advisory Council on Scientific Research (to 1956) 1947 Director of Nile Insurance Co. 1951 Romanes Lectures at Oxford 1951 Grand Officer, Legion of Honour 1955 Order of the Rising Sun, First Class


136 archive box(es)

1 item(s)

Language of Materials



The present arrangement is intended as far as possible to reproduce the original. The papers are arranged in seven main groups:-

Diaries and Newspaper Cuttings (1 & 2)

Correspondence (3 - 5)

Papers (6 - 13)

Suez Canal (14 - 17)

War Crimes (18 - 20)

Personal (21 - 23)

Literary (24 - 30)

The sections are not entirely self-contained, but Lord Hankey's practice of getting important items copied means that they often appear in several different files. Apart from the celebrated diaries which he kept, most of the papers are later in date than 1938.

Other Finding Aids

A copy of this finding aid is available in the reading room at Churchill Archives Centre and at the National Register of Archives in London.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

In 1967, the second Lord Hankey deposited his father's papers at Churchill College to be used by his biographer and subsequently to be available for historical research. Although the papers had originally been in good order, Lord Hankey had used them in the later part of his life for writing about his career and had destroyed part of his earlier records. There was considerable duplication of file titles and numbers of misplaced items. Much of the work of sorting had been carried out by Captain S. W. Roskill, R.N., while writing Hankey: Man of Secrets. The collection also includes some of Roskill's filing notes.

In 2002, Lord Hankey's daughter deposited an additional box of material comprising Hankey's honeymoon diary (HNKY 1/1A) and engagement diaries, 1941-1952 (HNKY 1/13A-D).

In 2008, the Hankey family deposited further material: a letter from Hankey to his sister which has been added to HNKY 3/12, photos of his parents (HNKY 23/14), sketches of Hankey (HNKY 23/15) and a sketch by Hankey (HNKY 23/16).

In 2009, the Hankey family deposited a further volume of photographs collected by Hankey (HNKY 23/17).

Related Materials

Churchill Archives Centre also holds the papers of Adeline Hankey, Lady Hankey (reference: GBR/0014/AHKY)


Government Control in War - Lees Knowles Lectures (1945) Diplomacy by Conference (1946) Politics - Trials and Errors (1949) The Science and Art of Government - Romanes Lectures (1951) The Supreme Command 1914-1918 (1961) Supreme Control at the Peace Conference 1919 (1963) Official Biography: Stephen Roskill, Hankey: Man of Secrets, Vol.I (1970), Vol.II (1972), Vol.III (1974)


This collection level description was prepared by Julia Schmidt using an existing collection level description. HNKY 4 was retro-converted by Julia Schmidt in 2019.


Hankey, Maurice Pascal Alers, 1877-1963, Lord Hankey of the Chart, civil servant

2008-06-25 09:14:52+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Churchill Archives Centre Repository

Churchill Archives Centre
Churchill College
Cambridge Cambridgeshire CB3 0DS United Kingdom
+44 (0)1223 336087